[[updated January 15, 2018]]

Influencer marketing takes many shapes, from sponsored blog posts all the way to product placement in Instagram shots and YouTube videos.

The concept behind it is pretty simple. A business teams up with an individual who has social clout. The influencer promotes specific products or services to their audience. Both win.

This new take on word-of-mouth marketing can be incredibly effective. TapInfluence found that influencer marketing can increase sales ROI 11 times!!

Yet, many marketers fall prey to rookie mistakes and jeopardize their success!

In this post, we’ll take a look at some of the most common influencer marketing mistakes and show you how to avoid them!

Related Post: Social Media Marketing 101

1. Starting without a goal

Every time you design a marketing campaign, you set a specific goal. You need to do the same thing here! If you don’t, you’ve made influencer marketing mistake Numero Uno.

Unless you measure the success of this campaign and track key metrics, you won’t know what your real ROI is.

Figure out the KPIs you need to keep track of and how you are going to do that before you start working on the rest.

Your metrics need to align with the overarching goal of your campaign. You may want to track engagement, website visits, sales and a other important measures.

2. Not doing your research on the influencer

Before you can start running your influencer marketing campaign, you need to find the right influencers.

When you run a campaign together, that influencer becomes a public face of your brand. It means that your name will be associated with their actions for the extent of the relationship –and even beyond it.

The recent PewDiePie/Disney debacle was a high profile reminder of what can happen when two incompatible entities team up.

Don't do it!

Instead, find an influencer whose beliefs and behavior align with your brand.  Otherwise, the relationship will only become a source of pain.

3. Not understanding the influencer’s audience

Different influencers attract different people.

Not an earth shattering statement, I know! But, researching and understanding their audience before starting a relationship is crucial. After all, the reason you are working with the influencer in the first place is to tap into that audience.

So, how closely does their audience profile fit in with your ideal client profile? While no match will ever be perfect, there needs to be enough overlap to make this a worthwhile investment.

If you sell high quality, high priced leather work bags working with an influencer who largely draws the 15-25 H&M shopper won’t be the best deal for either of you.

4.  Relying solely on followers to gage influence

The number of social media followers someone has can give you an OK-ish indication of their influence. But, there are plenty of shady ways to build up a following on Twitter or Instagram that give off the appearance of influence.

You need to dig beyond that and look at engagement rates, shares, and comments.

How involved is this influencer in conversations with their community? How active are their followers?

Nichole at Lapdog Creations has only 1,400 followers but does a good job engaging her audience. That’s probably why she’s been tapped by numerous brands, including Pooch Perks.

microinfluencer on instagram

A niche influencer with a small, engaged following may be far more valuable to you than a generalist with a huge following that doesn’t really listen to them.

The “Users” tab in Agorapulse can help you find the influencers in your own social media audience!

find your influencers

Log into your account, select any Twitter user, and Agorapulse will tell you if they’re an influencer!

teams and agencies

5.  Hiding your influencer relationship

You can approach an influencer campaign in two main ways. You can pay them or you can earn their influence for your product.

If you are paying the influencer in any way, they need to declare that relationship. If they don’t, you are both endangering your reputations and risk losing your followers’ trust.

Instagrammer Nanda Weskott creates sponsored posts for luggage maker Eastpack. She features some of their bags in her Instagram shots and puts their product in front of her followers.

But, every post is tagged as a #sponsoredpost, indicating the relationship.

sponsored post instagram

This is the right way to do influencer marketing.

Do not hide your relationship with influencers. And be sure that influencers don’t hide your relationship.

When your followers find out (and they will), it will destroy your credibility.

6. Going for a big name when a niche one would be more effective

Bigger isn’t always better.

An influencer with a niche audience that aligns perfectly with your ideal customer will be far more valuable than a larger celebrity.

Influence isn’t about size. It’s about the trust between a person and their audience. Using a few smaller influencers with engaged followers will be far more effective than placing all your bets on one big name. And, it will be better for your wallet!

7. Believing your business can’t benefit from influencer marketing

Avoiding influencer marketing because you don’t think your business is big enough is a mistake. Small businesses can see solid ROI from influencer marketing if it is approached correctly.

Influence is about trust.

A useful influencer is someone who’s built and developed their “know, like, and trust” factor and proven themselves to their audience. Small businesses can tap into that on a micro level.

If you run a local restaurant, look for hyper local food bloggers with followers that live in the area. If you have a niche vintage Etsy store, look for bloggers in that field. As evidenced by the hashtag #OXdeals, you can even get influencers to share photos of toilet paper!

sponsored toilet paper
Don’t let your size keep you from reaching the people who want to buy your stuff!

So … What about you and influencer marketing?

These days, we trust advertisements less and less. A 2016 report by the Interactive Advertising Bureau found that 26% of desktop users use ad blockers and that number is only set to grow.

We are real people. We trust recommendations from others like us a lot more than glossy ads. The average consumer prefers a little more humanity in their interactions with brands. This can explain why marketing with influencers is taking off. Tapping into the relationships they’ve built with their audiences can have an extraordinary effect on your business.

Avoid these influencer marketing mistakes and start building sustainable campaigns that will help you grow your brand (and influence!)